A jury will return on Monday to decide whether a former Palmerston North man inflicted severe head injuries on his stepson, after it failed to reach a verdict at the end of almost six hours of deliberations.
After retiring about 2.30pm yesterday the jury hearing the case against Peter Ross Moran was sent home after 8pm.
Moran, 23, is on trial in the High Court at Palmerston North accused of injuring his former partner's son, then aged 2, in Palmerston North overnight on May 16, 2011.
Earlier yesterday the jury heard defence lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith conclude his case by saying there was no evidence Moran had caused the near-fatal injuries.
In fact, the child's life had been saved by Moran, Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.
Moran, of Flaxmere, Hastings, was living in Palmerston North while he studied at Massey University.
He was sharing a house with the boy and his mother, Renee Robinson, with whom he was in a relationship until late March or early April 2011. They continued living together despite the relationship breakdown.
Mr Wilkinson-Smith said that Moran had found the boy on the bedroom floor and did not, as the Crown alleged, push his head silently into the ground, causing severe injuries.
The injuries had instead been inflicted in an accidental fall, or by Ms Robinson, he said.
Moran had found him unconscious on the floor and had saved his life in doing so, Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.
The boy had a history of causing himself accidental harm, including falling out of a window and needing hospital treatment two days before the incident.
"He's climbing everything. He's climbing the cupboards, climbing the tree that is out of bounds at the kindergarten," Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.
"I suggest to you that a serious accident was just a matter of time for him.
"It's the natural progression - not this bizarre theory of a silent assassin."
If the boy had not had a fall, the injuries might have been caused by Robinson, who admitted under cross-examination she had slapped the child in the face when he spat at her, Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with increased oil exploration?